Blue Jays sweep Whalley at home, suffer first loss @ UBC
Posted April 21, 2022
The Delta Blue Jays kicked off their regular season last weekend at home and got the all-important positive start they were looking for. Some unwelcome sleet interfered with their Sunday games in Whalley, now it just so happened that the Chiefs were next up on the Jays’ home schedule. Both teams were heading into action with a 2-0 record, so they were expecting a couple of tight battles based on what they saw in a small sample size last weekend. Instead, the Jays cruised to another Saturday sweep, but had a hard time finding their game on Sunday.
Chiefs 0, BLUE JAYS 9
The first game of the weekend was essentially decided after the 1st inning. Whalley’s starting pitcher Ryder Dingsdale didn’t get any help from his defence in an inning that he should’ve escaped scot-free. The Jays loaded the bases with one out on a walk to leadoff man Hunter McLean, plus a couple of singles from Noah Farnden and Brodie Tse. A groundball to shortstop presented the Chiefs with a tailor-made double-play opportunity, but the first of several errors on the day resulted in no outs being recorded and the Jays claiming an early 1-0 lead. Four straight singles later and the Chiefs found themselves down 6-0, forced to remove Dingsdale from the game and entrust reliever Ewan Tusa to pitch out of a jam. The first batter he faced was rookie Connor Fischer, who smoked a double to the left-field fence, capping off an 8-run offensive explosion for the Jays. That was more than enough cushion for Delta starter Jake Fehr to work with – he was absolutely dicing, allowing just one walk and one hit while striking out 11 over five masterful innings. The Jays’ bats only managed to tack on one additional run, which came in the 3rd courtesy of a Farnden scorcher down the right field line that brought home McLean all the way from first. Nathaniel Kolmel kept Whalley off the board in the 6th and 7th to preserve the shutout for the Jays in the front end of the double-header.
Chiefs 1, BLUE JAYS 12 (F/5)
Ivan Simbulan took to the mound for the Jays in game #2 just like last weekend, and he caught a bit of a break in the top of the 1st. Whalley slugger Joesiah Ancheta crushed a 1-0 fastball off the base of the centre-field fence, but he tripped and fell rounding first and had to settle for a two-out single. The next batter lined a single into right that may have scored Ancheta if not for his untimely base-running miscue. Instead, he’d end up being stranded at third, now tasked with keeping the hot Blue Jays bats at bay with his pitching in the bottom half. One run crossed for the Jays in the first, then came what felt like a repeat of game #1 in the 2nd. An Abenojar walk was sandwiched between two singles from Ed Wilde and Jake Fehr, setting the table for #10 hitter Lucas Holt. He grounded one back to the pitcher which resulted in his teammate Abenojar getting caught in a hot box along the third-base line. The Jays’ speedster stayed alive long enough for the Chiefs to drop the ball and let him motor home to give his team a 3-0 advantage. Five more runs came around in the inning, three of which were possible thanks to daredevil Brodie Tse beating out a routine groundball to third. That was followed by a deep shot to right-centre off the bat of veteran Sawyer Shears, who ALSO tripped and fell rounding first base! Whatever was in the air (or in the dirt) at Winskill on Saturday, it clearly wasn’t favoring the visitors. The Jays tacked on another in the 3rd and put it to bed in the 4th, as Kolmel picked up his first two RBIs of the season with a line drive to right-centre to make it 12-1. Although Simbulan battled with his command at times, he improved to 2-0 on the young season, and his team remained undefeated heading into an afternoon double-header with the UBC Thunder on Sunday.
Blue Jays 1, THUNDER 3
The theme of the Jays’ four games this weekend appeared to be the visitors struggling on defence – the day before it was their opponents, but today the shoe was on the other foot. Bottom of 3 was when the defence fell apart and surrendered 3 unearned runs, the only 3 that UBC needed. Smyan Billing had the top of the Thunder order baffled in his first two innings, retiring all six batters that he faced. The seventh batter he faced reached on a throwing error, then the Jays had a second chance to retire him as the next ball in play was a grounder to third – but the throw to second pulled Shears off the bag, and everybody was safe. A sacrifice bunt moved both runners into scoring position for the #10 hitter, who reached on a failed PFP. That’s how the three runs reached base… not pretty, but there was still lots of time for the Jays to put one bad inning in the rear-view mirror by stepping up their game in the batter’s box. Unfortunately, they didn’t come close to channeling their success from the day before until it was too little, too late. The Jays only managed one baserunner from the 4th to 6th innings after they fell behind, a bunt single courtesy of Fischer, who would later be cut down trying to steal third. UBC starter Casey Pritchett had his way on the bump, inducing a bunch of weak contact and waves at sliders off the plate. He exited the game after 5 2/3 IP with 8 K’s to his name, hoping his teammate could shut the Jays down in the top of the 7th en route to a game 1 victory. Shears watched four straight balls go by to leadoff the 7th, advancing to second on a dropped third strike. In stepped pinch-hitter Brayden Abenojar trying to spark his team’s offence, and he squared up a two-strike offering directly into the left-fielder’s glove for the second out of the inning. Ed Wilde, another pinch-hitter, proceeded to drop one in front of the left-fielder on the first pitch he saw, then wasted just as little time moving himself into scoring position. With the tying run standing 160 feet away, that’s where the Jays’ rally halted, their 10th strikeout of the game sealing their first loss of the regular season.
BLUE JAYS 5, Thunder 4
A scoreless first inning saw only one guy reach for Delta, that being Billing who stroked a ball to the right of Thunder left-fielder Gio Tsakumis. Unfortunately, Tsakumis injured his knee on his way to collect the ball and had to hobble over to it on one leg just to prevent Billing from touching them all. He had to be helped off the field after the play - we hope to see Gio back on the field next time these two teams meet in late June. Now in the top of the 2nd, Abenojar’s elite wheels helped the Jays net their first run by drawing an overthrow from the Thunder catcher on a steal of third and promptly scampering home. UBC responded with a run in their half of the 2nd thanks to a walk, a passed ball and a single. That would be the only earned run and only walk charged to Jays’ starter Hunter McLean in his regular season pitching debut, who recorded the first 13 outs for his team, including 3 outs on just 4 pitches in the 3rd inning. His fellow Richmond pal Brodie Tse single-handedly provided him with some extra run support on the first pitch of the 4th, as he demolished one to the wall in DEEEEEEEEP right-centre field. With Tse’s speed, you already know that ball ain’t coming back – it’s an inside the park home-run! Desmond Tregaskis followed that up with a clutch two-out, two-strike RBI single up the middle to increase the Jays’ lead to 3-1. Tse took over on the mound in the bottom of the 5th, another inning where the defence couldn’t hold up their end of the bargain. UBC pushed two more unearned runs across to tie the game, but Delta had an immediate answer. Billing and Tse both reached to start the top of the 6th, then Wilde executed a perfect sacrifice bunt against his former mates. Abenojar stepped up and deposited one just over the heads of the drawn-in infield, giving the Jays their third lead of the game. Once again, UBC countered in the bottom half to tie it, cashing in on a leadoff double that was perfectly placed inside the right-field line. In the 7th, Delta took advantage of the Thunder’s wild reliever by working a couple of walks, then – you guessed it – squeezing the winning run home! This time it was Connor Fischer cashing in Jake Fehr for the 5-4 advantage, and Tse took care of the rest in the bottom half. He did well to leave an infield single stranded, securing the win for himself and his team and salvaging a split of a hard-fought double-header.
One eighth of the way through the regular season and the Bantam Blue Jays are sitting at 5-1. Pitchers allowed a mere 3 earned runs over the weekend – the depth of their staff will be key moving forward. The boys found out just how tough it is to succeed in 4-game weekends even with such depth, and that one off-inning on defence can make all the difference. Another 4-gamer looms, as they’ll see everything the young Abbotsford Cardinals have to throw at them during their home-and-home series this coming weekend.